Comprehensive News Analysis - 10 April 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. India cautions Britain against tightening norms for skilled staff

2. Colombo Port project not a security threat to India: Ranil

C. GS3 Related:

1. Massive effort to conserve Olive Ridleys

2. Diabetes and India- 69 million and counting

3. Tea industry seeks special rate under GST

4. SpaceX rocket booster makes breakthrough landing at sea

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

Other

The Indian Express:

1. Piyush goyal on solar dispute: India to file 16 cases against US for ‘violation’ of WTO treatie

The Economic Times:

1. Blame it on Flawed Agri Policy, Too

Business Standard:

1. Focus on trade

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

B. GS2 Related

1.India cautions Britain against tightening norms for skilled staff

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indian Diaspora

Location: The Hindu Pg 15

TH10_UK_VISA_2807941f

Key points:

  • India has told Britain that by tightening norms for skilled foreign workers it was mixing up Intra Company Transfers (ICTs) with immigration and this could affect bilateral ties.
  • The commerce ministry will seek legal advice on whether the new guidelines on ICTs discriminate against India and are inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services.
  • Indian tech firms are worried that the tighter norms for foreign skilled workers would chip away at their bottom line.
  • The Indian IT/ITeS sector is mainly affected by the stipulation that from April 2017 onwards a company (including India-based), looking to bring a worker into the U.K. for short duration, specifically to carry out the work of another organisation, will have to pay them a minimum annual salary of £41,500. This minimum threshold represents a 67 per cent increase from the existing limit of £24,800.
  • Although Britain has noted that skilled migrant workers have helped in boosting its economy and reducing the costs of companies, the British Government maintains that skilled worker visa “reforms” were taken to safeguard employment opportunities for its residents as well as to bring down the reliance of the U.K. enterprises on skilled labour from other countries.
  • The new norms also state that from autumn 2016, all intra-company transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • The U.K. will review the extent to which allowances may be counted as salary to ensure it has appropriate safeguards in place against undercutting of the resident labour market.

Tags: WTO, Intra Company Transfers (ICTs)

 

2.Colombo Port project not a security threat to India: Ranil

Topic: International Relations

Category: Indian Diaspora

Location: The Hindu Pg 14

Key points:

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has maintained that The Colombo Port City project, which both China and Sri Lanka have decided to develop into a financial hub, will not have any impact on Indian security.
  • The Prime Minister also mentioned that the project would be a joint venture with a Chinese company and a Sri Lankan company, and that Sri Lanka wants to put 40 per cent out into the stock market, which will give an opportunity to Indian companies to invest in the Sri Lankan venture.
  • Sri Lanka has been planning to establish a financial and business hub in the Indian Ocean and has selected the port city to be the location.
  • The Port City would become part of efforts to turn Sri Lanka’s western province into a mega-polis of eight million people.
  • The Prime Minister highlighted that his government wanted to turn the port of Hambantota into another Shenzhen.
  • He rejected the contention that like Gwadar in Pakistan, the Chinese will manage the operations of the port.
  • The Prime Minister pointed out that with China as one of the core partners, Sri Lanka had devised a regionally inclusive “economic plan”, which would establish Sri Lanka as a “financial, business and logistics hub”.
  • He added that the framework of the plan aligns with China’s Belt and Road initiative, India’s Make-in-India policy, and Singapore’s vision of economic engagement with Colombo.

Tags: Colombo Port City project, Hambantota

 

C. GS3 Related

1. Massive effort to conserve Olive Ridleys 

Topic: Environment and Ecology

Category: Conservation

Location: The Hindu Pg 08

th10-nation-and_TH_2808228e

Key points:

  • Wildlife authorities have launched a massive exercise to conserve Olive Ridley turtles in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS).
  • Over 10,500 eggs of the turtles have been collected since early March. They are being conserved in the rookeries set up within the KWS limits.
  • 139 artificial nests have been arranged in the three rookeries set up at Sangameswaram, lighthouse area, and Jinkapalem of Nagayalanka mandal as part of the in situ conservation method.
  • The nesting season seems to have come to an end by the end of March as no turtle has been sighted on the beach in the last few days.
  • The number of turtles sighted during the annual nesting season in and around the sanctuary area has been significantly higher this year than during the last season.
  • Members of the Yanadi tribe are directly involved in the conservation bid. They have been given the task of collecting the eggs on the beach and maintaining the rookeries.

Tags: Olive Ridley turtles

 

2. Diabetes and India- 69 million and counting

Topic: Science and Technology

Category: Health

Location: The Hindu Pg 10

diabetes_2807959f

Key points:

  • India is now in the midst of a diabetes epidemic.
  • India has an adult prevalence rate of nine per cent and almost 69 million people living with diabetes.
  • In another 15 years, this figure is expected to rise to 101 million. In all this, more than 90 per cent of cases are lifestyle-induced.

Symptoms and Causative Factors

  • Individuals with diabetes do not have any symptoms for long periods of time and may have complications at the time of diagnosis.
  • Common examples such as retinopathy (blindness), nephropathy (kidney disease), neuropathy (nerve damage) and diabetic foot (gangrene and amputations in extreme cases) affect a large proportion of individuals with diabetes.
  • Approximately a third of those with diabetes are known to develop retinopathy.
  • Diabetes is also known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and stroke); nearly half of those with diabetes die of heart attack.
  • The increase of cases of diabetics and prediabetics has been attributed to the following:

 

  1. Lifestyle changes as a result of rapid and unplanned urbanisation,
  2. An ageing population, a sedentary lifestyle and increasing consumption of unhealthy food, especially modern processed foods.
  3. Lack of opportunistic screening, delays diagnosis
  4. Poor access to care and medicines, information asymmetry between doctors and patients, and a paucity of well-trained human resource, impede evidence-based management of diabetes.

Strategies to promote Health

  • Prevention remains central in halting the current pace of the diabetes epidemic.
  • Focus should be on both individual and policy-level interventions.
  • Health promotion strategies should be aimed at maintaining normal body weight by improving physical activity and following a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Policy measures also call for reinforcement of health systems. Higher taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and high fat junk foods and planning urban infrastructure to promote physical activity have become all the more imperative now.

Conclusion

  • Diabetes is no longer a disease predominantly affecting the rich and is fast spreading to rural communities. The poor are even more vulnerable.
  • Thus India has: a population where the number of people with diabetes has increased substantially over time and is set to continuously grow; a large number of people disabled by complications, and an equivalent number who are unaware of the condition.
  • Early diagnosis and prevention is the key to control the disease and minimise the risk of disability. In this, we need a multi-pronged approach that involves collaboration among national leaders, clinicians, public health researchers and allied health professionals.

Tags:  Diabetes

 

3. Tea industry seeks special rate under GST

Topic: Economy

Category: Taxation

Location: The Hindu Pg 15

Key points:

  • The tea industry has sought a special tax rate under the new GST regime as it will have an impact on the livelihood of poorer sections of the society.
  • The current tax rate for tea sector is between 5.5 and 6 per cent. As against this, the lowest rate proposed in the GST is 12 per cent for “low” rate goods which would be applicable for tea.
  • Under the current tax structure, various concessions/ benefits are provided both by the Centre and the State to tea sector.
  • These benefits are in the nature of exemption from excise duty payment and lower VAT rates on tea across all states (including concessional rates for teas sold through auctions).

 

Important Features

  • The plantation-based industry is labour-intensive in nature.
  • The industry provides livelihood to people, many of whom are poor and economically weak.
  • Tea industry provides direct employment to more than 1.1 million – half of whom are women.
  • It also looks after three million dependents who reside at the tea estates.

Causes for concern

  • The tea industry is saddled with a host of problems, ranging from ageing tea bushes to climate change.
  • A rise in tax incidence could fuel inflationary pressures, affecting consumer demand.
  • This would have adverse effect on the sector’s economic viability as well as the sustenance of the large workforce, employed by the sector.

Tags:  Tea Industry, GST regime

 

4. SpaceX rocket booster makes breakthrough landing at sea

Topic: Science and Technology

Category: Awareness in the fields of Space

Location: The Hindu, Pg 20

SpaceX_jpg_2807436f

Key points:

  • SpaceX is privately owned space exploration technologies firm.
  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, was launched from Florida and its reusable main-stage booster landed on an ocean platform minutes later in a dramatic spaceflight first.
  • The successful autonomous touchdown of the booster at sea marked another milestone in the quest to develop a cheap, reusable rocket, expanding SpaceX’s edge in the burgeoning commercial space launch industry.

The Road Ahead

  • SpaceX plans to plans to start launching rockets about every two weeks from its sites in Florida and California later this year as the company tackles satellite-delivery orders worth some $10 billion.
  • Roughly half the upcoming missions will leave the Falcon 9’s booster with too little reserve fuel to fly all the way back to the launch site for a return landing, so the ability to land at sea is essential.
  • SpaceX also plans to debut a heavy-lift version of the Falcon rocket this year. This heavy-lift version would be equipped with 27 engines powering its first-stage, compared to the nine currently used.

Tags: SpaceX, Falcon 9

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

Others

Indian Express:

1. Piyush goyal on solar dispute: India to file 16 cases against US for ‘violation’ of WTO treatie

Topic: Economy

Category:  International Trade

piyush-goyal759
Key points:

  • Minister of State for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said on Saturday that the government intends to file 16 cases against it for allegedly violating WTO treaties.
  • This intention was expressed months after the US won a case against India in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Background of Issue:

  • India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was in the eye of a storm after the US filed a case against the government’s support to the programme.
  • The WTO had subsequently ruled that the government’s support to the programme contradicts trade-related investment measures signed by India.
  • The national solar mission aims to generate one lakh MW of electricity through solar installations.
  • The minister made a strong plea to industries for adopting solar energy, and added that the government would also encourage installation of rooftop solar electricity generation plants and has targeted generation of 40,000 MW from this channel.

Tags:  Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, WTO

 

The Economic Times:

1. Blame it on Flawed Agri Policy, Too

Topic: Economy

Category: Agriculture

Key points:

Background:

  • Recurring drought conditions in many parts of India are leading to starvation and distress migration.
  • It is the rural poor who are the worst affected victims of crop failure. Their problems are compounded by a slump in construction activities and non-availability of work in the MGNREGA rural employment scheme.
  • However, drought cannot be blamed entirely on monsoon failure or on climate change.
  • Perhaps, a flawed agricultural policy is a bigger causative factor in the collapse of farm and dairy production in semi-arid regions.

Problems in the agricultural policy

  • The policy approach to agriculture since the ’90s has been to secure increased production by subsidising inputs such as power, water and fertilizer.
  • There has also been a focus on increasing the minimum support price, rather than by building new capital assets in surface irrigation, rainwater harvesting, improving credit for smallholders and evolving new drought-resistant technologies.

This has resulted in,

  • Shifting the production base from low-cost regions to high-cost ones.
  • Causing an increase in the cost of production
  • Regional imbalance and an increase in the burden of storage and transport of produce.

Conclusion

Collective capability is required for the management of commons and for new structures created with MGNREGA funds.

Unfortunately, most projects have failed to generate sustainability because of the failure of government agencies to involve the people and build their social capital.

Tags: MGNREGA, Drought, Agricultural Policy

 

Business Standard:

1. Focus on trade

Topic: Economy

Category: International Trade

Key points:

  • India’s exports have fallen for 15 months in a row. The average (year-on-year) fall per month during that time is a sizeable 16 per cent.

Reasons Attributed

  • There is some suggestion that, in volume terms, they are not suffering.
    There is also the claim that this is driven essentially by the fall in the price of oil, given that refined petrochemicals are a major export category.
  • There have also been problems that have been cited with world trade and overall demand. But this claim is debatable as India’s peer countries when it comes to exports, such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malaysia, have grown exports in this period.

The Way Forward

  • Export growth needs to be revived. This is a battle that must be fought on many fronts.
  • India must strive to plug itself into the many new regional trading arrangements emerging today.
    Progress needs to be made on India’s accession to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC.
  • There are too many concerns expressed about revenue loss on account of trade agreements.
    Trade is no longer about tariffs, but about “behind the border” practices – environment and labour standards, customs procedures and trade facilitation norms.
  • Export weakness cannot be blamed on volatility. But, it is important to note that some of it is due to an overvalued rupee, rendering Indian exports uncompetitive.
  • This is something that the government and the central bank must together acknowledge and address.

 

Tags: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
  • MGNREGA
  • Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • SpaceX
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1:Consider the following statements regarding the ‘Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’
  1. APEC has grown to become a dynamic engine of economic growth and one of the most important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific.
  2. India is among the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2:Consider the following statements regarding the ‘Tea Industry’,
  1. The tea plant thrives well in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
  2. There are two main varieties of tea, namely bohea or Chinese and assamica or Assamese.
  3. India is the second largest tea producer in the world.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) All 1, 2 and 3

d) 3 only

 

Question 3:] Consider the following statements regarding institutions under the ‘Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’,
  1. The National Institute of Solar Energy is the apex National R&D institution in the field Solar Energy.
  2. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is a Non-Banking Financial Institution under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for providing term loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 4:Consider the following statements regarding ‘Diabetes’,
  1. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).
  2. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 5:The ‘Isle of Man’ is associated with which of the below geographic regions?

a) Eastern Australia

b) The British Isles

c) Mediterranean Europe

d) Southeast Asia

Check Your Answers

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